Archives for March 2017

We Are Growing the Research Enterprise

research_microscope_03042016The Strategic Hiring Initiative (SHI) is a major part of growing our research enterprise. We are investing $60 million over five years to hire a total 30-32 faculty, primarily physician-scientists. The goal is to strengthen existing collaborative research groups and to catalyze new initiatives and collaborations.

Through the SHI and other strategic recruitment efforts, we’re hiring the best scientists and physician-scientists into thematic areas of organ transplant, metabolic disorders, precision medicine, regenerative medicine. These themes build on the strengths of the previously identified areas of cancer, cardiovascular, and neurosciences. We are now a year and half into this initiative and have already hired a number of outstanding faculty. Below are recent strategic hires who are joining us this year:

  • bourne1_03292017Philip Bourne, PhD, arriving on May 1, will be the Director of the Data Science Institute. Dr. Bourne comes to us from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he served as the first NIH Associate Director for Data Science, reporting directly to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. He is regarded nationally and internationally as one of the top researchers in the field of informatics and data.
  • garret-bakelman_03292017Francine Garrett-Bakelman, MD, PhD, arrived on March 1, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology Medical Oncology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics. Dr. Garrett-Bakelman came from Cornell University School of Medicine. She’s working on the genetics of leukemia and is the lead investigator on the NASA “Twins” project, which studies the effects of weightlessness on the human genome. This research is in preparation for sending humans to Mars.
  • basuNEW2_03292017 basuNEW_03292017Ananda Basu, MD, and Rita Basu, MD, a husband-and-wife team, arriving on July 1, are Professors of Medicine (Endocrinology) from the Mayo Clinic, where Rita chaired the Institutional Review Board for the Mayo Clinic Office of Human Research Protection. They collaborate with Dr. Boris Kovatchev’s on the artificial pancreas and, with support from the University’s Strategic Investment Fund, will work with him on the wireless diabetes clinical trial.
  • oberholzer_03292017José Oberholzer, MD, who arrived on March 1, is the Director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center. He comes to us from the University of Illinois and is an international expert in the robotics of organ transplantation. Dr. Oberholzer researches cell therapies for diabetes and other endocrine disorders. Under his guidance, our center will be the only one in the nation that can transplant all solid organs.

SHI investigators are starting to add to the already impressive gain in NIH funding that was initiative this past year, when our school’s rankings moved from 40th to 35th, seen in the recent Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research report, which provides medical school rankings by total NIH grant awards. (You can read more about those rankings here.)

Please join me in welcoming these new faculty to the University of Virginia School of Medicine. I look forward to seeing their medical science advancements in the coming years.

David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science

How did you celebrate St. MATCHrick’s Day?

UVa_SOM_Match_Day_17_e4636On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 149 members of the UVA School of Medicine’s Class of 2017 tore open envelopes and learned where they would be heading for additional training as residents.

I could not be more proud of them. Every year seems to be more and more competitive and yet our students always rise to the challenge. The below list shows how the residency spots filled out, by specialty:

  • Anesthesiology | 6
  • Dermatology | 2
  • Emergency Medicine | 11
  • Family Medicine | 9
  • General Surgery | 11
  • Internal Medicine | 36
  • Interventional Radiology | 2
  • Neurological Surgery | 3
  • Neurology | 3
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (incl prelim) | 7
  • Ophthalmology | 4
  • Orthopaedics | 4
  • Otolaryngology | 4
  • Pathology | 3
  • Pediatrics | 18
  • Physical Med/Rehab | 2
  • Plastic Surgery | 1
  • Psychiatry | 4
  • Radiology/Diagnostic | 10
  • Radiology Oncology | 2
  • Urology | 2

This list represents many great matches to top-rated institutions such as Duke, Mass. General, Yale, Stanford, Northwestern, Brigham & Women’s, Vanderbilt, UCSF, Cornell, Beth Israel Deaconess, University of Washington, and Johns Hopkins. While our students do all of the heavy lifting during their medical education career, I would like to thank our faculty and staff for training and supporting them for four years. Results from Match Days like this should make you feel great — it certainly does for me.

While I will miss the students who are leaving, I find comfort in knowing that 21 of our graduates chose to stay in Charlottesville, doing all or part of their residency program here at the University of Virginia. I look forward to seeing them around the School and the Medical Center.

Please join me in thanking our colleagues at the Medical Alumni Association for hosting such a terrific Match Day event and in congratulating these 149 students!

R.J. Canterbury, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Education

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Med + Architecture Team Up on Human-Centered Design Program

Like many great programs at the School of Medicine, it started with the students.

A few years ago, three medical students expressed interest in “design thinking.” Design thinking is a creative problem-solving tool, a systematic way of looking at challenges, a mindset that teaches how to ask the right questions, to tackle the real problem. This is often used to produce the products and experiences we use every day. Think Apple’s iPad. Why not apply this type of innovation to medicine? Design thinking uncovers latent desires or unmet needs, ultimately answering the question, “What is best for the user?”

humancentereddesign9_03212017Or, in our case, it could be translated to “What is best for our patients?” As its name implies, design thinking began in design-oriented professions but it has grown significantly and is now successfully applied to business, engineering, and social issues. There are only a handful of schools applying it to medicine — and we’re one of them.

Year 1: “Let’s try this …?”
David Chen, MBA
, Coulter Program Director, Department of Biomedical Engineering; Erik Hewlett, MD, Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases and International Health; and Matthew Trowbridge, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Public Health Sciences, ran with the idea and — with support of colleagues like Megan Bray, MD, Associate Dean for Curriculum — have grown it into something wonderful.

(l-r) Matthew Trowbridge, MD, MPH; David Chen, MBA; and Erik Hewlett, MD

(l-r) Matthew Trowbridge, MD, MPH; David Chen, MBA; and Erik Hewlett, MD

Last year, David and Matt co-instructed a program called Human-Centered Design that had 10 first-year medical students field trip to the Be Safe Situation room, where they learned the True North issues of the Health System. While Be Safe was using Lean problem-solving to tackle the Big 6 issues, the students broke into two groups and decided if they could positively affect the “patient falls” and “readmissions” categories. Using design thinking, the students uncovered aspects of patient stories that were a surprise to even the most knowledgeable in the Health System. More importantly, their interviews and enquiries resulted in actions at the patient-care level. (A special thank you to Paul Helgerson, MD, who was vital to their access and Be Safe education.)

My takeaway from this first year is almost Seussian: A healer’s a healer no matter how small their med-school training is. They cared to make a difference and they did. (Additionally: They did it on their own time!)

Year 2: “Let’s partner with Architecture.”
For the 2016-2017 year, the 15 first-year medical students participating in Human-Centered Design are tackling the Emergency Department expansion project — and they’re doing so by partnering with School of Architecture students across Grounds in Elgin Cleckley’s class. (Cleckley, a recent hire, is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Design Thinking.) Together, the students in both schools are discovering how an emergency room should be designed with a patient-centered focus. They’re challenging themselves to discover the factors that would improve the patient experience. Their goal is to promote a more informed conversation within the Health System by bringing the patients’ voices, ideas, and desire more clearly into view. They’re reframing the question for the rest of us. Can they propose a radical re-imagining of what an emergency room should be? How radical will we let it change? Design thinking teaches that true innovation can sometimes come from examining the extreme ends of the bell-curve. And they’re doing just that.

humancentereddesign5_03212017The program is experimental and dynamic and, itself, a product of design thinking. For the ED Expansion Project, the students gathered thoughts on essential elements for an emergency room, from the patient perspective, and provided it as output to the A-School students. At a recent Friday-afternoon session, the architecture students replied with visual prototypes and video presentations describing improvements. Broad concepts like “chaos” and “comfort” and “uncertainty” and “normal” were considered. No idea was too ridiculous. Nothing was dismissed. As med students watched these videos, they wrote initial impressions in a group-shared Google Doc, after which Matt recorded on-the-spot videos with his phone. All of this became more input data for the architecture students’ design projects.

humancentereddesign8_03212017It is a whirlwind of creativity and out-of-the box thinking. In an institution steeped in tradition and within a Health System governed by necessary protocol and critical procedure, witnessing pure creation and co-inspiration is something to behold.

The Future Is Full of Challenge
Erik, David, and Matt all freely admit this is an experiment. But one worth trying, as design thinking is an emerging area in education. Their goal is to use this small program as a prototyping space for development of relevant additions and new approaches to the core medical school curriculum at UVA (and nationally). For example, Matt recently delivered to the second-year class a workshop on empathy-based interview techniques from design thinking. The idea was to help them develop a diverse set of interview skills — rather than a purely clinical interview — as they transition into their clinical clerkships and onto their full medical careers. Adding this tool to our already vast educational toolbox is yet another differentiator for UVA. We’re only one of a handful of schools in the country who is offering a program like this.

humancentereddesign2_03212017There are grand challenges (not to mention changes!) in healthcare, issues which medical and science knowledge alone cannot solve. The most pressing issues of the day are complex and physicians have a definite role to play in solving them, but it is not a purely clinical role. Alongside their regular medical education, design thinking is helping our medical students learn the language of other fields and cultures, such as technology, business, and design. With this added tool, our med students can cross-cut different spaces to find the common ground. In the future, this will enable them to translate public health and medical knowledge into those fields, which will in turn deliver a broad impact.

The future of healthcare is full of change, too, and design thinking allows us to provide future physicians — alongside their traditional clinical skills — with a structured approach to managing that change. It will aid their ability to work in interdisciplinary teams and tackle systems-level problems. In the end, it will also make them better physicians and researchers.

humancentereddesign4_03212017David, Erik, and Matt tell me that design thinking is fun, as it allows students (and the faculty who are teaching them) to open up their minds, refresh themselves, and think creatively about the field to which they’ve devoted their lives.

I am proud of what David, Erik, and Matt have accomplished just as I am proud of the students and their efforts. UVA is already emerging as a national leader in the conversation of applying design thinking to medicine — Matt recently spoke at Stanford about our program. (Click here to see a clip from that talk.) I look forward to seeing the role UVA can play in using design thinking to improve the human condition.

R.J. Canterbury, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Education

humancentereddesign7_03212017 humancentereddesign6_03212017 humancentereddesign3_03212017

Highlights: March MAC Meeting

som-bldg_NEW_12122014Opening Comments from the Dean

  • US News & World Report: The dean congratulated our faculty on their work that resulted in the School of Medicine moving from 28 to 27 for research and from 25 to 24 for primary care.
  • Dean David Wilkes reported on two strategic hires, Dr. Francine Garrett-Bakelman (genomic studies of leukemia and head of the NASA “twins project”) and Dr. José Oberholzer (Director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center).

Budget Update

  • Kathy Peck reported that the budget review shows significant increases in costs, especially those related to new hires. The budget team will circle back to the departments for a closer look prior to the April 4 submission date.

Managing the Research Portfolio

  • Dr. Anita Clayton, chair, and Michelle Storer, Director of Research Administration, from the department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences discussed the management of their faculty research portfolios.
  • The program is a robust, pro-active, and successful tool for PIs and grant administration alike. It assumes research time is fully funded, provides for detailed quarterly reviews, encourages diversification and collaboration, and offers early identification of potential trouble and follow-up planning. Streamlined access to necessary information/forms, SOPs, policies and deadlines that support an effective grant application and administration process, and a flexible, solution-focused approach keeps research funded and moving forward.
  • Contact Michelle Storer for details.

Faculty Diversity

  • Dr. Susan Pollart thanked those who have submitted their diversity plans. She reminded us that the LCME is monitoring us in the area of diversity and specifically will want to know how we are doing with the search for a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) and how well we are doing in recruiting URM faculty.
  • She identified several promising practices that departments may wish to emulate and will circulate information about these practices in an upcoming email.
  • Each department facilitator will receive an edited version of their plan in the coming week. The next steps are to finalize the department plans and submit current year, one year, and three year goals.
  • The CDIO search will begin in the next few weeks.

This Is a Blog About the Blog

blogaboutblog_03162017Another revolution around the sun has come and gone. This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Dean’s Office Blog. The blog was created to help increase the quality and consistency of communication from my office. It is meant to provide faculty and staff with an additional channel of information to learn about important news that affects your work and the School of Medicine at large.

In the last year we have published 42 stories on strategic hires, notes from the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) meetings, innovative methods in promoting research and enhancing education, funding opportunities, safety measures, and more.

But it has been a year, so I’d like to ask: Does this site work for you?

In looking at the site’s analytics, it appears to me that faculty and staff are, indeed, visiting, reading, and (sometimes) commenting. The Dean’s Office Blog has had nearly 29,000 pageviews and over 5,800 readers. And, while numbers do not lie, they rarely tell the whole story.

Can you help fill in the gaps of this story?

I’d like to know your thoughts. Please post a comment below and let me know how this site could be improved, what topics you would like to read about, and where we can make adjustments so that you are better served over the next 365 days and beyond.

David S. Wilkes, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science

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